“We all must learn to speak the language of the Bible”. With these words, His Eminence Archbishop Justinian, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA offered his archpastoral instruction before the opening of the 3rd Annual Baltimore Orthodox Bible Bowl hosted by St. Andrew Orthodox Church (OCA) on Saturday, June 12, 2010. His Eminence said that “Children’s hearts are softer than those of adults. Their young souls are more receptive to hear God’s Word. And so, events like the Bible Bowl help to encourage our children not only to study Holy Scripture, but to begin the process of speaking the language of the Bible.” After Vladyko’s kind instructive words, everyone sang the hymn to the Holy Spirit (“O heavenly King…”) in both English and Slavonic, followed by the Archbishop’s blessing to officially open the competition.
At this year’s Bible Bowl, nine teams, representing four Orthodox parishes – Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church, Four Evangelists Ukrainian Orthodox Mission and St. Andrew Orthodox Church – participated in the friendly competition.
Three High School teams competed against each other during the first round of the contest, answering questions taken from the Epistles of James and 1 Peter. Only one team took the trophy, but all of the high school participants walked away with a better understanding of the importance of living an active faith as instructed by St. James and St. Peter. We offer our congratulations to the High School team from Holy Cross which showed a mastery of the material, easily taking the trophy and 1st Place for the second year in a row. Likewise the teams from Holy Trinity finishing in 2nd Place and St. Andrew’s taking 3rd Place deserve a round of applause for doing a great job in answering some difficult questions.
The next round featured the Middle School competition which doubled in size from last year’s event to six teams this year. At this level, participants answered questions taken from the Epistles of 2 Peter and 1, 2, 3 John. Yes, it’s true. Eleven, twelve and thirteen year olds successfully answered questions on topics ranging from deification to living the ‘new commandment’ of love. The competition was tight, but at the end, for the third year in a row, the team from Holy Trinity finished in 1st Place retaining the honor of keeping the trophy at their church for another year. Coming in a close 2nd Place was Holy Cross’ team followed by Team A from St. Andrew’s church finishing in 3rd Place.
The awards ceremony was conducted after the Pan-Orthodox celebration of Great Vespers in the church. All participants were given a beautiful icon of the Transfiguration of our Lord and the teams finishing in first, second and third place of each level of competition received gift cards from Barnes & Noble.
The clergy, Sunday School teachers, and parents offer our congratulations to all of the kids for participating in the Bible Bowl. They obviously studied the material and prepared well for the competition. We are proud of each and every one of them.
By the Grace of God and the dedication of the clergy and faithful of several Orthodox parishes in the Baltimore area, the Orthodox Bible Bowl has more than quadrupled in size in just three years. We are pleased by how successful the Bible Bowl has become and we pray that this perennial event will bring additional parishes and Sunday Schools together in friendly competition, encouraging more of our youth “to speak the language of the Bible.”